Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Premier League

Wenger backs Campbell for England return

Arsene Wenger believes Sol Campbell could play his way back into the England squad for the World Cup in South Africa in the summer.

Campbell was due to sign a contract this afternoon which would relaunch his career at the Emirates Stadium until the end of the season.

And while Arsenal manager Wenger is more concerned with Campbell giving cover to his back four in the Premier League, he reckons the 35-year-old has the dedication and the physical talent to resurrect his international career.

Wenger said: "It (England) is not the immediate target but you should not rule anything out.

"That is not my worry and my job but if you were in his position what would you want to do? You would want to give your best and you never know. It is unlikely maybe, but if you are in his shoes you would say 'Let's give as much as I can' and you never know."

Campbell is not in the squad which travels to Bolton on Sunday, a squad which is boosted by the return of captain Cesc Fabregas, following his hamstring injury, and full-back Gael Clichy, who has recovered from a back problem.

But Wenger expects Campbell to feature in a busy month ahead which includes crucial games against Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool as well as a tricky FA Cup tie at Stoke.

Wenger said: "I have seen him in training and he is very sharp. His attitude is good, his talent is good. But it is the game which decides."

Campbell, who played 45 minutes in the reserves earlier this week, was a key part of both the Arsenal double-winning side of 2002 and the 'Invincibles' who went through an entire season undefeated two years later.

When asked whether he regretted allowing Campbell to leave in 2006, Wenger said: "Life is life. He wanted to go abroad. I did not make him leave. He wanted to go. We live in a world where everybody is free to do what he wants with his life.

"It gives us the opportunity to have one more centre-back. Sol will give us experience, good advice and physically he has worked very hard.

"It is an opportunity for him to relaunch his career and for us it is a good help for the rest of the season. He is dedicated, motivated and looks happy to be back."

Wenger insisted, however, that William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen were his first-choice centre-backs and admitted that out-of-favour Philippe Senderos could be on his way out of the club soon.

The Arsenal boss also believes any team with 36 points or more can still win the title this season - which includes Tottenham on 37 and Manchester City on 38 as well as Arsenal, Manchester United and leaders Chelsea, who have 45.

"All the teams who have over 36 can still hope," said Wenger. "There has been a general lift in the level of the teams. In January no team is completely out of anything.

"There are teams who play for the title and the Champions League and teams who play not to go down. Usually you have six or seven teams not concerned at either end. This year that is not the case. There is life in every game."

Wenger recognises the trip to Bolton, where new manager Owen Coyle takes charge in his first game, will be tough.

He said: "Any team is awkward in the league at the moment for everybody. Every team is highly motivated against us. We are used to that. If we play at our best we can win whatever happens to Bolton.

"Owen Coyle has done extremely well and I expect him to do well at Bolton."